The outcome effect occurs where an evaluator, who has knowledge of the outcome of a judge's decision, assesses the quality of the judgment of that decision maker. If the evaluator has knowledge of a negative outcome, then that knowledge negatively influences his or her assessment of the ex ante judgment. For instance, jurors in a lawsuit brought against an auditor for alleged negligence are informed of an undetected fraud, even though an unqualified opinion was issued. This paper reports the results of an experiment in an applied audit judgment setting that examined methods of mitigating the outcome effect by means of instructions. The results showed that simply instructing or warning the evaluator about the potential biasing effects of outcome information was only weakly effective. However, instructions that stressed either (1) the cognitive nonnormativeness of the outcome effect or (2) the seriousness and gravity of the evaluation ameliorated the effect significantly. From a theoretical perspective, the results suggest that there may both motivational and cognitive components to the outcome effect. In all, the findings suggest awareness of the outcome effect and use of relatively nonintrusive instructions to evaluators may effectively counteract the potential for the outcome bias.

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